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Investing in the Future

March 29, 2013

Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NYTimes describes a recent “change of heart” on the part of those who as recently as a month ago declared the deficit was creating immediate and urgent problems with the economy. Instead, he writes:

Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.

While much of the column describes why deficit spending during a prolonged recession is a fiscally responsible action, he writes:

You don’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that America needs more and better infrastructure, but the latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers — with its tally of deficient dams, bridges, and more, and its overall grade of D+ — still makes startling and depressing reading. And right now — with vast numbers of unemployed construction workers and vast amounts of cash sitting idle — would be a great time to rebuild our infrastructure. Yet public investment has actually plunged since the slump began.

Or what about investing in our young? We’re cutting back there, too, having laid off hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers and slashed the aid that used to make college affordable for children of less-affluent families.

Last but not least, think of the waste of human potential caused by high unemployment among younger Americans — for example, among recent college graduates who can’t start their careers and will probably never make up the lost ground.

I agree with Krugman’s economics and his politics… but he seems to be the only mainstream columnist who is advocating MORE spending and explaining why. Ten years ago he was one of the few columnists who spoke out against invading Iraq… but we went in their anyway based on erroneous information. Here was my response to Krugman’s essay, which reinforces the need for deficit spending on schools and technology infrastructure:

A recent study indicated we needed to spend $500 Billion to upgrade public schools… and many (if not most) States have moratoriums on school construction finds because of the downshifting of federal costs to the state level… There are roughly 25% of our homes lack ANY internet access and a similar percentage lack broadband, which is virtually required to access any on-line instruction. If we are REALLY serious about the next generation we should be investing in our schools and in the technology infra-structure required to provide every home with broadband. Instead we are closing schools and replacing them with for-profit charters and swallowing the telecom industry’s line that they will provide internet access over time. My conclusion: we are not investing in the future because the majority of our legislators seem intent on privatizing as many public services as possible.

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